kate cuthbert

TBYL Events finds out how to take “The Next Step”

One of the things that I like to try and do with TBYL is to help take the guess-work out of bookish things for bookish people. Our book reviews try and help take the blind-punt out of choosing your next book and our online store is about making it easier for you to pick up your next read once you’ve chosen it.

Last night’s TBYL Event, “The Next Step” was largely about taking some of the guess out of getting published, demystifying the writing game. I really hoped that we’d be able to help people make their writing dreams a reality.

I was thrilled to be joined by Kate Cuthbert, Managing Editor from Escape Publishing (the exciting new digital publishing arm of Harlequin) and two current Escape authors Rhian Cahill and Charmaine Ross.


I wanted to find out a little more about what’s involved in getting published. What should a story look like? What are editors looking for and where do writers find themselves coming undone?

Luckily, Kate was both willing and able to answer these questions for us. She very kindly gave us a run-down on what Escape Publishing was all about, and how digital publishing works, including what digital publishing requires of authors. Whilst digital publishing is fast-paced, requiring pretty well-structured submissions and quick turn-arounds, it also affords a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility is unprecedented, allowing for the entry into the market of new authors, new genres (and genre mash-ups) and the thing that I like most, a wonderful variety of story lengths; “Escape Publishing accepts stories from anywhere between 5000 words and 500,000.” Hence we’re seeing an amazing range of short stories, novellas and tomes all on the market, ready for us to download onto our e-readers.


Kate shared some really practical tips for writers, such as the importance of editing… edit, edit, edit, structural edits and copy as well. She suggested that writers always have others read their work prior to submission, and that they take the time to step away from their story before trying to edit it. A little time and space between yourself and your work works wonders for the editing process. Kate also stressed the importance of not including too much backstory, presenting believable characters who live up to their description, and developing stories with strong, compelling (and propelling?) pacing.

And with romance, don’t ever forget the happy ending!


It was also really interesting to hear from Rhian and Charmaine, particularly considering that they both had quite different experiences of writing – their genres were different, their methods were different, the challenges they faced were different – but still, essentially, they both had to write, it was a compulsion and something they’ve been doing since they were quite young. Being published was a dream come true, and seeing copies of their digital books sell steadily was a real affirmation of their craft.

I asked them what it meant to become published, and they both agreed that as exciting as it is, it’s also a lot of work. It would seem that both Rhian and Charmaine set themselves writing goals, daily and weekly, in order to get their stories to come to life. Once manuscript has been accepted a new kind of work begins… editing, editing, editing, cover-art, promotion. It’s a job, but nice work, if you can get it.


Personally, I found this session incredibly insightful and from feedback I’ve received, so did the audience – they’re questions were fantastic too, really getting to the heart of romance-writing as a career.

A huge thank-you to Kate, Rhian and Charmaine, as well as to Escape Publishing. Thanks so much for making the evening so entertaining and informative.


Our next TBYL Event will be an online one, so our friends across the country (and the globe?) will be able to get involved. Stay tuned also for announcements regarding our next real-life event coming soon.

And hey, happy writing!

TBYL Events: The Next Step

I’m thrilled to be able to reveal the details of the next TBYL Event, which will be held on Wednesday 22 May 2013, 7pm – 8pm at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne.

“The Next Steps” is a perfect session for all of us who dream of one day being published, but who aren’t quite sure where to start…

the next step

It’s your chance to get some tips, straight from the source, on how best to achieve your dream of being a published author. TBYL Events is proud to present Kate Cuthbert, Managing Editor from Escape Publishing (the exciting new digital publishing arm of Harlequin) and two successful Escape authors Rhian Cahill and Charmaine Ross.

They’ll be sharing their experiences of writing and publishing, offering advice on everything from pitching your ideas, developing your story, manuscript presentation, and hints on the submission process.

This one-hour session is an opportunity to tap into the exciting world of publishing, to ask questions and to share experiences with other aspiring authors.

If you’d like some take-away information, you can download a brochure here and you can find out more about Escape Publishing and our special guests Kate, Rhian and Charmaine on the TBYL website.

Tickets are just $20 ($15 concession) and seats are limited. You can book now…

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Welcome to Escape Publishing

When I was studying writing at University, my lecturers went to great lengths to inform us that getting published was, to put it politely, challenging. They made a point of making it quite clear that having a great idea, putting together a great story with a wonderful cast of characters was only one small part of the process of becoming a published author.

EscapeBlogTour3This year, new possibilities became available to a group of new emerging authors, with the launch of Escape Publishing.

Harlequin Books already have a reputation for listening to their readers and giving them plenty of accessible titles for them to join. In 2013, they turned their ear to new authors, hearing their cry for an easier, fairer manuscript submission, review and consideration process. And from this, Escape Publishing was born…

Escape Publishing takes a novel approach. Firstly, we are dedicated to our authors. If you’re an author with us… it’s all about you! Our promise to you is a personalised service with a fast turn-around of 3 months, supported by an integrated marketing campaign.

“We’re nimble – we are big enough to take the time to help you craft your manuscript and provide the marketing support to help create a bestseller, but small enough to adapt to, and move with, the market. We have built an unparalleled connection to the reader and with over 78% market share, we know romance!” Managing Director of Harlequin Enterprises Asia-Pacific, Michelle Laforest, explains.

I’m not the best to tell you all about this new publishing house though, rather, I’m pleased to be able to share with you, my Q&A with Escape editor, Kate Cuthbert…

Kate, would you like to introduce yourself a little?
Sure! Hi, I’m Kate. I’m the Managing Editor of Escape Publishing, Harlequin Australia’s new digital-first imprint. I’ve been reading romance since I was about 11, and my first ever romance was a little Mills&Boon novel by Charlotte Lamb, called Dreaming.

And, could you tell us a little bit about Escape Publishing? What sets it apart from other Publishers?
Escape Publishing is the digital-first arm of Harlequin Australia, with the goal of bringing Australian and New Zealand voices to a global audience. We’re flexible, free, and fast – our digital-first model means we can take more risks, fill niche, explore new ground, as well as celebrate fabulous romance traditions. We have a small team, which makes us responsive, but we have the Harlequin team at our back. And we can have you published within 6 months.

Why is Escape so important to you?
As with all romance readers, I’ve seen the market shrink, and then shrink, and then shrink some more – the financial climate has meant that, in a lot of cases, publishers have had to bypass risks and stick to trends. This has lessened our diverse and wide-ranging genre. With Escape, we can start filling in some of the gaps, taking those risks, and catering to what readers want. Further, as an Australian-based imprint, we’re well-placed to really promote Australian voices, which is something we’re really passionate about.

Escape team

The Escape Publishing team!

Do you have Three Top Tips for people out there who might be thinking of putting a manuscript together, and see Escape Publishing as just the ticket?

Tip No. 1
Get someone else to read your manuscript. Digital-first publishing has some ramifications. We move very fast – at the moment we’re about 2 weeks from submission to first response, and just over three months from acceptance to publication. So the initial barrier to acceptance is probably a little higher. We don’t have time for a prolonged editing process, so your manuscript has to be in the absolute best shape it can be. Find someone you trust to read your story – someone who will be completely honest with you. Probably not your mum. You need to know where the holes are, the leaps of logic, the uncharacteristic actions. And edit, edit, edit. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

Tip No. 2
Make sure you have a website and have thought about your online presence. Digital-first readers live online, which means authors have to as well.

Tip No. 3
Hit that submit button. There are so many writers out there who just polish, polish, polish, but never work up the courage to take the final step. But if I don’t read it, I can’t publish it. So take the chance.

What can people expect to see from Escape Publishing in 2013?
So much good stuff! I wish I could tell you all about everything, but I’ll focus on some of our upcoming titles: I’m calling January ‘SF month’, because we kick off our Science Fiction romance section with two great titles: one is Legend Beyond the Stars, which is a very hot adult romance, and we also have Rayessa and the Space Pirates, which is a YA space opera and is a whole lot of fun.

Also, just to celebrate ourselves, we have a lovely little Australia Day story, set on the beach, about a very serious doctor and a not-so-serious surfer.

Do you have any reading recommendations for our bookish readers? 
Do I?! Well apart from the titles I’ve recommended above, we also have our December titles, which are now available:

New Year’s Kisses by Rhian Cahill is a very romantic, surprisingly sweet, subtly sexy sequel to Rhian’s Christmas Wishes, one of our launch titles.

Short Soup by Coleen Kwan is about best friends, mistakes, dreams, and the healing power of Chinese food.

Summer Fling by Serenity Woods is our first New Zealand story, a contemporary romance about a chocolatier and a sky-dive instructor.

Drawing Closer by Jenny Schwartz proves that short stories can still sizzle!

No Strings Attached by Bridget Gray is sweet, funny, surprising, and set against the aftermath of the Boxing Day Tsunami.

The Danger Game by Caitlyn Nicholas is a quick-paced, breath-taking techno-thriller.


If you’d like to find out more about Escape Publishing, please visit their website here.

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